When did you last take the time to reflect on something carefully? That takes time and conscious choices. At the beginning of every year, we find a natural invitation to look back at what has happened and to imagine what might be coming. We mark the new year with a feast dedicated to Mary, the one who was told so much at a young age. It’s an appropriate time to ask yourself: What portion of your life is in need of reflection?
Many people start a new year with resolutions, which are often forgotten or unfulfilled. These resolutions reflect what we would like to do or who we would like to be, but are often made without much thought about actually fulfilling them. These resolutions are often whimsical with little base in reality.
There are some conditions in each of our lives, and certainly in our Church and world, that need reflection. What might we be able to do as individuals to center and focus on these particular circumstances? Can we become conscious enough of the real circumstances of our lives, or will we continue to numb ourselves with repetitive and mindless activities?
What might you need to reflect on your relationship with God? Do you have a real and personal relationship with Jesus Christ, or has religion become empty? What keeps you from being honest with Jesus and allowing Him to embrace every aspect of your life? What would be your first step of honesty in presenting yourself to Jesus? What is it that makes you afraid to let Jesus see every part of you?
What might you need to think about the condition of your family? Families are complex communities. No families are perfect, nor are they hopeless. Reflect on the good that is present in your family. Ponder whatever giftedness you have received from your mother, father, sister, brother, grandparents or others who have become associated with your family through friendship. Cherish the giftedness that is there, and imagine what could be possible if you made the next step of generosity or forgiveness toward those who hunger for that from you.
What might you need to reflect on the Church and the world? Even though these are huge communities, what might you be able to do to help the parish where you worship and the community where you live become better places for everyone who is there? Reflect on your connection with your community. Are you an active part of that community? Do you come and go without interacting with anyone else? Have you decided that you are unworthy to be part of that community, which leads to your hiding in the midst of many people? Ponder the possibilities of living a full life, connected with one or two other people in a real and honest way.
On Jan. 1, we celebrate Mary, the mother of God, the great reflector and ponderer of the human race. She prayed and reflected on all the revelations that were given to her about herself, Joseph and Jesus. She had impeccable timing, knowing when to speak and when to stand back. She lived a rich and holy life, reflected purely in her son, Jesus. She stands as the model for us at the beginning of this year to become more reflective and conscious as we walk through this world. The season of Advent, a season of awakening, is over. Now, we have the time to ponder the mystery of God made flesh and to let those reflections affect the way we live.
Father Donald Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.